The main entrance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
One requirement of this course is a visit to the Ancient Greek or Roman Art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum in which you use either my podcast for Greek art and the Iliad or my podcast for Roman art and the Aeneid. Just your going to the museum, taking one of these tours and completing the appropriate handout, is worth 10 points of your final grade. Also, one of the papers you write this term must be on either the Greek museum tour and the Iliad, due October 12 or 15, OR the Roman museum tour and the Aeneid, due December 7 or 10. For either paper, see the special "Museum Topics" listed under those two due dates in Writing Assignments. Make this required visit either before Oct. 12 or 15 (for the Greek podcast) or before Dec. 7 or 10 (for the Roman podcast). You can certainly take BOTH tours, and I will consider giving extra credit if you do so. Don't try taking them both on the same day, however! You'll develop "museum fatigue."
Before you go, check out the Met's Greek and Roman art collection at www.metmuseum.org . Click on "Curatorial Departments" and then on "Greek and Roman Art." Also find on this site maps of these galleries. Use the online pictures to consider tentatively a topic you might write about for either the first or 4th paper, due October 12/15 or December 7/10.
If you want to take the tour of Ancient Greek Art in connection with the Odyssey, download onto a CD or onto your mp3 player or iPod my podcast on the Odyssey . Go to the museum before Oct. 12/15, when the first paper is due. After walking the tour, take the short quiz at www.surveymonkey.com/s/greekquiz.
If you want to take the tour of Ancient Roman Art in connection with the Aeneid, download onto a CD or onto your mp3 player or iPod my podcast on the Rome of Augustus and Virgil . Go to the museum before Dec. 7/10, when the 4th paper is due. After walking the tour, take the short quiz at www.surveymonkey.com/s/romanquiz.
Before heading to the museum, read over the "Museum Topics" for either the first paper or the last paper at Writing Assignments to see if you might want to write on one of them. Bring with you to the museum a CD player or your mp3 or iPod loaded with my podcast, as well as the appropriate handout and a pen and notebook .
The Lexington Avenue train stops at Lex. Ave. & 86th Street (express and local); the C train stops at Central Park West and 86th Street; and the #1 train stops at Broadway & 86th St. The crosstown #86 bus goes across 86 St. from the West Side, through Central Park, and to the East Side, stopping just north of the museum at Fifth Ave. The 79 Street crosstown bus also stops at Fifth Ave. just south of the museum. From John Jay, take the #1 train to 86th St., and then take the #86 crosstown bus, using your Metrocard free transfer. Get out at Fifth Ave. If you want to drive, there is a parking garage in the museum (enter on Fifth Ave. just south of the museum building). It's expensive, though you can get a small discount by having your ticket validated when you get your admission button.
Friday & Saturday: 9:30 am-9:00 pm (These evening hours are not crowded, and there are snacks and free music on the second-floor balcony.)
CLOSED MONDAYS, BUT on SPECIAL MONDAYS, Sept. 6 (Labor Day) and Oct. 11 (Columbus Day), Museum is OPEN (and not full).The busiest days are Saturdays and Sundays. Good days to go are Thursday, Sept. 9 (Rosh Hashanah), Fridays, Sept. 10 and 17 (Eid al-Fitr and Yom Kippur), and the Holiday Mondays, when the museum will not be crowded.
When you go, you must pay something. DO NOT pay the "Suggested" fee. Give no more than $1-2.00. As a CUNY student, you shouldn't have to pay at all. Do not be intimidated by the admissions people. You will then be given a receipt and a colored metal button for your lapel, which shows you have paid admission or been admitted for that day. The color changes daily. This button allows you to leave and re-enter the museum as many times as you wish in one day, so you can go outside to Central Park or to eat or to shop and then return to the museum later. Save this button to hand in with your essay.
The Ancient Greek Art exhibits are on the first floor to the left of the big round info desk in the center of the main hall as you come in. (Ask at this desk for directions to any other exhibit that interests you, or ask the guards.) Once inside the Greek galleries, follow my podcast as a guide to what you are seeing.
The Ancient Roman Art galleries are beyond the Greek galleries, which you walk through to get to them. Follow the directions in my podcast.
As you walk around listening to the podcast or following my script, consider the paper topics, and choose the objects you will write about. Choose pieces that strike you as particularly beautiful and that also pertain to the topic you've chosen. Then spend time taking extensive notes on your chosen pieces of art. Be sure you use quotation marks for material you copy from the museum's information on walls and in cases.
Plan on spending at least 2 hours in the museum.
To prove that you went to the museum, hand in with the appropriate handout:
Here are some other exhibits you might also like to visit after the Greek or Roman galleries:
1. The extensive collection of Egyptian art on the first floor to the right of the main lobby
2. Art of India on the second floor above Egyptian art.
3. Chinese painting and the restful Chinese garden nearby are on the second floor above Egyptian art and beyond Indian art.
4. Medieval art and armor on the first floor. See tapestries of medieval scenes, and then go through the medieval art to the armor exhibit of knights on horseback. Kids love these!
5. The giant Christmas tree surrounded by Neapolitan Christmas figure (this is set up after Thanksgiving)
6. European paintings on the second floor at the top of the grand inner staircase at the back of the lobby. Look for paintings of the naked Venus (Aphrodite) by Titian and Veronese.
7. African art on the first floor, at the end of the corridor to the left of the lobby, just beyond the Greek galleries.
8. "Big Bambu," a huge bamboo structure outdoors. Get a free ticket before going upstairs.
�SLOW LOOKING� QUESTIONS
In addition to the advice on my podcasts, here is some advice for how to look long and carefully at an art object so that you see much more than you would at first glance.
First Impressions: What strikes you first as you look at the object? What attracts you to this piece? Look away for a count of ten. Look back. What more meets your eye?
Zero In: What details do you notice in the object? How are they arranged in relation to one another? What details do you not understand? Does the museum label help? If you can walk around the object, what details do you see on other sides? How do the different details fit together? Do they seem to tell a story?Back Up: If you�ve been looking at the details, move a short distance away from the object and look at it as a whole. What more or what else do you see? How does this far view differ from the close-up view? Again, if you can walk around it from a distance, does the object have another side that presents anything further to your eye?
Fragments: Much of the art salvaged from ancient Greece was discovered in pieces that have been painstakingly reassembled. Does the piece you are looking at show any evidence of this process? If something is missing, how does this gap affect you as you look? What might the missing part be?
Other Physical Features: What about the object�s color? Shape? Size? Overall patterns?
The Maker: How might this piece have been made? (Use the museum labels and wall texts for help.) What tools might the maker have used? Can you see any evidence of these on the object�s surface? What do you think must have been difficult to do? Easy? Why do you think it was made?
Use, Location, Historical Context: How was this object used? Where might it have been seen? What other sorts of objects might have been with it or around it? Was it ordinary (Everybody had one) or unusual (Only the rich could afford it)? (Often, the museum puts objects together in the same case or area of a gallery that �belonged� together in their original ancient Greek context. Thus, kraters used to mix wine with water are displayed with cups for drinking the beverage.)
Look away, Go away: Stop looking for about 20-30 seconds. Walk away to another object. Then return to the one you�ve been looking at closely. What surprises you about this piece? What questions do you still have about it that you�d like answered?